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Cutting grass

Posted by mynormas on May 31, 2013

Jika alasan anda ialah kecerunan; cuba cari mesin "hover mower"

Jika alasan anda ialah kecerunan; cuba cari mesin “hover mower”

The recent case of a child injured by flying debris gave me the impetus to write this letter. I see a lot of people  – from local authorities to homeowners to football associations  – planting grass but the most common method used to cut the grass is by using the backpack mower called the  ‘brush-cutter’; ‘bush-cutter’; ‘whipper-snapper’ or even the ‘helicopter’.

This machine is favoured because it is cheap, portable, simple to use and require almost no maintenance. When the blades are changed to nylon strings heads, there is one added advantage: there is no need for sharpening.

A few observations about this “brush-cutter”:

  1. The business end of this machine consists of naked rotating blades or nylon strings.  These blades/strings would turn at high speed to cut the grass by impact. Needless to say the same impact would fling stones, pebbles, sand particles and other debris on the ground at high speed towards the operator and those around him or her. Its made worse when the operator rests the strings on the ground.

    The nylon string head of a brush-cutter

    The nylon string head of a brush-cutter

  2. Due to the weight and vibration of this machine only the tough and hardy are willing to operate it for long periods. Hence we see this work being ‘monopolized’ by foreign employees. If we really want to reduce our dependency on foreign workers, lets reduce our dependency on this machine first, at least in this context.
  3. This also has the effect of keeping turfgrass and landscape maintenance in the realm of labourers or part-time odd-job workers. This would negate the efforts of the efforts of the Youth and Sports Ministry – among others – that for the past few years has been working on a syllabus to train youths in landscape, stadium and golf course maintenance with the intention of turning this into a career.
  4. In the hands of the untrained – or the tired – operator, the tendency is to rest the blades or the strings on the grass.  This would cause a very low height of cut (think: ground height) Grass needs leaf to do photosynthesis to produce food and cutting at low heights just removes too much leaves. There is a “rule of thumb” of not cutting more than one-third of the grass when mowing. No way can the “brush cutter” maintain a consistent mowing height of one-third of anything.

I call on everyone who has authority over grass cutting (and that includes homeowners) to stop or limit the use of these machines. Homeowners should consider buying their own electric grass mowers (available in most hypermarkets). Local authorities, building and golf course owners should consider renovating their turfed areas so that its more accessible to ride-on mowers. Architects too must design turfed areas with ride-on machines in mind or look at  alternatives other than grass for example ground-covers, wild flowers, weeping lovegrass, pebbles or even artificial turf.

Homeowners should mow their grasses more often than the occasional time when the grass cutter knocks on your gate when he sees your grass long. The grass Malaysians call Carpet grass grows very quickly and should be mown as often as at least once a week. Petrol engined mowers are high maintenance so do consider an electric or ground-driven mowers.

Many land owners, football associations, golf courses and even homeowners dream of striping their grass. This can never be achieved with “brush cutters”. And no; contrary to popular belief, you don’t need golf course priced machinery to stripe your grass, any mower with a heavy roller behind it (and this can be modified with a metal or GI pipe) will stripe a field with enough discipline on the part of the operator.

With a brush cutter? All you need is a sneezy operator and you can kiss your beloved grass goodbye.

These poor grass has been mown with a brush cutter - maybe the operator has the flu.

These poor grass has been mown with a brush cutter – maybe the operator has the flu.


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